4 hours of fear on campus leave MSU students with difficult memories

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Community members leave flowers at the Spartan Statue on the Michigan State University campus

Marin Klein

Students and community members leave flowers at the Spartan Statue to honor the students lost and those still fighting in the hospital

Where are you?

Are the doors locked?

Are you safe?

I love you.

On  Feb. 13, these were the types of texts I received from friends and family during the shooting on campus. I experienced fear, anger, worry, and so much more, as did every member of the Spartan community. Many students were locked up and barricaded in buildings they considered their safe place. 

The day felt like any other Monday. I had my normal classes and went through my routine. I spent most of my day editing hockey and gymnastics videos in a computer lab for the student-run sports news show that I help produce for the Spartan Sports Report. And at 5 p.m., several classmates and I headed to the newsroom in the Communication Arts and Sciences building and got to work. My only thoughts were getting my edits done and then going home for dinner. I didn’t think that this Monday night would be different from any other. 

At 8:15 p.m. we were set up and ready to film. And at 8:30 I got a text that made my heart sink. I started to receive messages from people I knew that live near the Union building. The whole world seemed to pause when I read them.

Stay where you are!

Shots in the Union!

Get inside!

I instantly looked around to see who else may have received those texts, but everyone seemed unaware while I felt panicked. Soon cellphones began to chime. Everyone saw the words “Run, Hide, Fight” sent by the university’s emergency alert system. That’s when I knew. This is real and it’s happening on my campus. 

We spent the next four hours fearing for our lives and the lives of everyone around East Lansing. I frantically tried to contact my family as we all made ourselves small in the corners of our unlocked room. The confusion and chaos made me feel so small. No one knew what was happening or what we were going to do. The reality of what was happening to this place I considered my home give me a sickening feeling overtook me. 

I remember texting my mom that I had never been so scared in my life. I wasn’t alone in feeling that. Students across campus were sending similar messages to their loved ones. No one knew where the shooter was or how safe they really were until the suspect was located four hours after the first shot. 

Sophomore Briana Goldsmith was outside the Union when she saw people running outside. People in the crowd tried to grab at her to get her to safety. She said it all felt confusing and frightening. People driving past her tried to grab her to get her inside their car. 

“It was scary not knowing what was happening and just seeing everyone panicking,” said Goldsmith. “Once I was inside the dorm we were all just kinda at the edge of our seats, not knowing what to do.”

Even two weeks later, the sickening feeling hasn’t left me. I am reminded of what happened through countless things: a siren, a loud noise, anything can make me feel more on edge. My home won’t ever be the same. 

The thought of returning to the Communication Arts building terrified me. I spent hours in a classroom, curled on the floor, and the last thing I wanted to do was go back. However, my community supported me. Despite all the pain, students have found a way to come together. Sophomore Matt Martinosky said he was inspired to see all the love and support from the community.

“There’s a lot of sense of community since we all went through something traumatizing together,” said Martinosky. “It’s really cool seeing all the signs and the flowers.”

While we all heal, we have to remember that we are healing together. Not one Spartan is alone. Spartans are all dealing with different emotions and feelings, but they are doing it together. 

MSU has received national levels of attention and seen amazing tributes to the school. Even University of Michigan fans wore green and white in support. There has been so much love and support for the Spartan community, but this will not be something we can walk away from easily.

“The whole night, I think we all felt very unsafe and scared, but it has been great to see the community come together,” said Goldsmith. “I am interested to see how it will all last.”

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